Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Robin Parsons from GreenEDGEFans was able to gather some comments from Australian Ladies who are racing the Giro Rosa starting Sunday 30th of June.Stage One is a 123 km  from the town of Giovinazzo to Margherita di Savoia
Its a stage that will probably suit the sprinters in the Race

Stage Two is a 96 km race on circuits which will be a great spectacle for for those watching on the side lines.

Stage Three is a 111 km mountain stage suited to excellent climber it ends with a climb that max’s at 18% and has cobblestone on it
Stage Four is a 137 km tough stage
Stage five is a 96 km hill-top finish

Stage Six from Terme di Premia to San Domenico is a 121 km race with another hill-top finish that will probably sort out the GC places for the race.

Stage Seven is a circuit race in the town of Corbetta covering 120 km

Stage Eight is a 16 km individual time trial in the city of Cremona

A total of 803 km
The Giro Donne is the most important stage race for Women on the calendar.  As Rochelle Gilmore, Team manager and rider for Wiggle Honda says “The Giro Rosa has, and always will be one of the most prestigious races on the calendar and it’s an absolute honour for an Aussie female cyclist to say- I’ve ridden the Giro!”Australia has a considerable representation in the Giro Rosa Peloton with Fourteen Women, Amanda Spratt, Gracie Elvin, Jessie Maclean, Shara Gillow, Tiffany Cromwell and Melissa Hoskins are racing for Orica-AIS.  Lauren Kitchen and Rochelle Gilmore  are racing for Wiggle Honda. Jo Hogan and Ruth Corset riding with Bizankia-Durango.  Rachel Neylan and Chloe Hoskins  for Hitec products.  Carlee Taylor  for Lotto Belisol and Loren Rowney  for Specialized-Lulumon.

Rochelle Gilmore
Rochelle Gilmore

Rider and Wiggle Honda team owner comments 

“13 Australian women in the Giro Rosa is impressive! The Giro Rosa is a tough race and professional teams are selecting their strongest riders” further she adds “Australian’s are naturally very committed to their sports but once you pack up your life and leave Australia, family, friends, relationships and so on,  to move to Europe, the professional athletes tend to work a little harder to achieve their goals that they and their supporters have sacrificed so much for”

Another Aussie Racer, Loren Rowney who races for Specialized Lululemon Specialized Lululemon

Cheeky Loren

I think sums up the character of Aussies racing for European teams. When, I questioned her about her cheeky pinch on the bottom of a young, male official after the Redlands Bicycle Classic in the United States She replied in true Australian style.. she was dared! You  don’t dare Aussies!

“ It was one of those last second, spur of the moment things,  I was dared to do it by our guest rider at the race, Olympic Mountain  biker Lea Davison (perennial champion... how does she do it!) . I was like, “meh, what the hell”.

“I didn’t think it would go that viral, seeing though, I was in States at the time! It made me infamous for all of 2 seconds.”

Lauren Kitchen has another view of the Rosa 
Lauren Kitchen
 “I am very excited to start the race next week, it will be my fourth Giro, having previously competed in 2009, 2010 and 2012. I have very fond memories from this race as it was my first race in Europe in 2009 when I was 18. Last year I was part of the Rabobank team that won the pink jersey with Marianne Vos” . 

So to Lauren this is probably the most exhilarating stage race of the year.

Carlee Taylor (Lotto Belisol)

Carlee Taylor

makes a personal point about the Rosa

the Giro is one of my biggest focuses for the year” and “My preparation leading into the tour has been good and I'm excited and ready for it

The Giro runs over 8 days and has a total of 803 kmFor those not familiar with the Giro Rosa or the Giro Donne as it was known, should think about these comments from  Loren Rowney about her thoughts of racing the Rosa.
Loren Rowney

“Extremely excited, a bit nervous, and well;’ it’s a little daunting! I’ve always followed the Giro from a far, so to finally get the opportunity to race it, among the best bike riders in the world, on one of the best teams, is a dream come true”

further Rochelle Gilmore (Wiggle Honda) added

“I’m very excited! Over the years I have developed a passion for this race, it’s always very physically & mentally demanding but at the same time, it’s fun in the sun with a group of 8 friends & great staff to look after us. We will all laugh and cry at some point during the Giro Rosa but overall – it’s an amazing atmosphere with lots of fans following the race and this year, Wiggle Honda have a very strong team!”

Both Loren and Rochelle are dedicated and super domestiques for their teams. 

As Rochelle put it

“My role at the Rosa this year will be to support Giorgia Bronzini 100% on the 2-3 flatter stages, every other day my role will be as a general domestique and to survive the mountains. Above all, my role is to ensure that our Wiggle Honda athletes are given the best possible support during the Rosa in order to obtain the results they are capable of”

Carlee Taylor is in the same position 

we are going into the giro with high aspirations. Ashleigh Moolman is one of the best climbers in the world and I am lucky to have her as a team mate. With my strength also being in the climbs we hope to make the most out of the hilly parcours in this years giro” 

This is very typical of Aussies racing for European teams whether female or male.  Rochelle makes a great point, 

"Giorgia, is sprinting probably better than any other ladies in the peloton, so, Wiggle Honda are targeting Stage oneStage One is a 123 km stage from the town of Giovinazzo to Margherita di Savoia. 

It’s a stage that will probably suit the sprinters in the Race.

 Stage Stage  Two is a 96 km race on circuits In Cerro al volturno , which will be a great spectacle for for those watching on the side lines. Stage Seven is a circuit race in the town of Corbetta covering 120 km and will also probably suit two times World Champion Giorgia Bronzini.
On the other hand Loren adds 

“I think you can guess what our team tactics are! Ride as hard, fast and smart as we can for Evie, (Evelyn Steven’s)  because she is a serious GC contender. I think Evie is climbing better than anyone in the peloton at the moment, so stage 6 for one, will be a very exciting and interesting stage. Seeing that Evelyn Stevens finished 3-stage Giro della Trentino in Italy on last Sunday the 16th June with another overall General classification race win”

Surely that is a good plan!

Loren Rowney further adds

“stage 6 for one, will be a very exciting and interesting stage”

Stage 6 is a 121 km race with another  hill-top finish race  that will probably sort out the GC places for the race.
Stage 6 profile

Personally I am looking forward to stage 5. The stage climbs up switch backs like this
With a profile like this!
And I think  Carlee Taylor (Lotto-Belisol) agrees with me she said

With my strength also being in the climbs we hope to make the most out of the hilly parcours in this years giro”.

Being a hill climber I am pretty excited about the hill top finishes in this years giro, as it isn't often you get them. So stages 5 and 6 in particular I would say suit me most” 

I think we would all agree that this and all the other parts of this race will make an exciting eight days of racing and as Rochelle puts it when asked whether the Rosa will be swamped by the Tour de France she wryly adds

Swamped – No. The Giro Rosa has history and thousands of followers that will continue to line the streets. In some ways the TDF compliments the Giro Rosa…. It’s cycling fever. The women’s Giro Rosa is televised daily in Italy, directly after the TDF coverage, which I think is great for Women’s cycling. The Professional Tour de France guys can all race back to their hotels to watch the Women’s Giro RosaFurther Lauren Kitchen from Wiggle Honda adds
“ yes, it could be overshadowed”... “but the Rosa along “... “with Australian competitiveness in the race”.. “is growing every year with new sponsors” 

Carlee Taylor makes the comment

Obviously having the women's giro on at the same time as the biggest cycling race of the year is hard to compete with. And it isn't surprising how the media attention the men are getting is taking the spot light away from our biggest race of the year also” 
But she makes a very good observation “It would be great if more women's races could be held in conjunction with the men. All the media that is generated for the race would then also help promote female cycling as well as the fact that our races would then be more exposed to the media and more people would see how far female cycling had come and how aggressive our racing can be

This article is hoping to showcase Australian women racing the Giro, but we asked a bit from Rochelle about the challenges of not only racing but also managing at the top level.Wiggle have come along way in their maiden year. Rochelle remarks about her tough job but in true style she grabs the bull by the horns and adds

“I have great staff and super appreciative athletes! My staff a very capable and confident in their roles and they respect my opinions and motives. “Managing” is not such a huge task when you have respect from your staff and athletes. The job involves a lot of decision making, explaining, expressing and influencing. I enjoy managing and being responsible for the outcomes. Training everyday compliments my management job, I can definitely get more done in half a day (compared to a full day) and work more productively after a good training session. Riding allows me to clear the mind, release frustration and stress and ultimately, make better decisions.”

I asked Rochelle about more Australian sponsors and Australian riders in Wiggle Honda she replies

“Yes, I hope so!! I would love to support more Australian athletes. One of my motives for creating Wiggle Honda was to provide a comfortable environment for Australian athletes in Europe. We’ve only existed for 6 months now but very quickly demonstrating that the team is stable, safe & successful…. a good option for Australian athletes to consider. Our current title sponsors; Wiggle & Honda both have a strong presence in Australia and through these companies Public Relations divisions, Wiggle Honda and our athlete’s have gained significant exposure in Australia. Our team has a very strong connection with Australia, so I would welcome Australian based organisations to get involved - with confidence that we could give Return on investment."  

Yes I would agree with Rochelle, there is significant returns with investing in Women’s cycling. 

The increase in Females riding and purchasing cycling products is demonstrated with Lululemon producing specific women’s cycling products and supporting a successful Elite Women’s team.

This year’s Giro Rosa runs for 8 days and visits seven regions of Italy: Puglia, Campania, Molise, Marche, Liguria, Piemonte, and Lombardia which is nearly a 1000 km if you drove straight there! The transfer between stages will be quite long, I asked the Ladies are their plans to keep your body and mind in top condition.Lauren Kitchen (Wiggle-Honda) replied 

I think the most important thing is to be focused on recovery. I plan on taking a good book, a few movies and hopefully some form of reliable Internet..”.

on the other hand the rider but in essence road captain and director of sport made a more thorough but also important comments 

Hydrate, wear skins, stay cool, stay relaxed and  smile”.  Also “Shotgun one of the beds in the VanoMobil camper”... “hang-on” she remarks “wait – it’s probably not legal to lay in a bed while the camper is moving.  Most importantly “Regular stops to stretch the legs and keep moving”. 

Rochelle’s comment on smiling is a simile of life “its tough” but “relax and smile”.

Loren Rowney from Specialized-Lululemon is short and sweet

Compression tights, good music, my kindle, and yummy snacks haha”

I must admit I have had the opportunity to question other riders about their down time and reading (females) seems to be substituted with play station (males). I know that’s true we have three sons!

Carlee makes these observations

“Recovery is obviously very important during a stage race. During long transfers wearing compression garments such as compression socks and tights helps a lot. As well as putting your legs up when it's possible, stretching at petrol stops and keeping hydrated. We don't get team buses so our transfers will be spent in the back of cars. Luckily we all enjoy each others company!”

No team buses seems to be the norm for Women’s races and I believe one team had the Ladies camping in the Belgium cold weather.

When we do drive at the hotel we will be getting massages. And eating....predominately pasta and chicken as that what seems to be on the menu.” 

Carlee then said some cryptic comments perhaps her teamies no this one!

“I like winding down at night by watching a TV episode, talking crap to my teamies and friends, but also may or may not be addicted to 4 pics 1 word!”

Jo Hogan and her great website health cyclist has a great article on racing in Europe 

I quizzed the ladies about how can we improve the profile of women’s road racing

Lauren Kitchen (Wiggle Honda) replied

I think that more women's races along side the men's will increase the coverage of our sport which will bring more viewers and sponsors which will help it grow. It is a process and bit by bit it is changing :-)”

Rochelle Gilmore (Wiggle Honda) makes the comment

Obviously TV coverage will increase the level of support for women’s cycling. There are many ways we could achieve this and step by step….. we’re getting there. More and more women’s events are being televised nationally around the globe.” 

I think what is very exciting is that Rochelle always the strategic tactician states

“I‘m hoping to produce a documentary on Women’s cycling next year, hopefully someone like EuroSport, BBC, Sky or another producer will pick it up and we will gain some more momentum”
I think Rochelle is on a winner there. How many of us really enjoyed Anna Meares documentary on ABC “Australian story”?”

Loren Rowney (Specialized-Lululemon) further adds some good commentary

I really think the Aussies are making their mark in Europe. You just have to look at GreenEDGE, a predominantly Aussie squad, and they have had immense success. Not to mention Rochelle Gilmore running one of the most professional female teams, with Wiggle Honda. You have the likes of Rachel Neylan winning a silver at the world champs, Chloe Hosking getting podiums in almost every race she enters. The depth in the National Road Series field back home in Australia you will see it  is just getting better and better every year, so we have the talent, it's just sometimes the support is lacking”

Carlee Taylor adds to that and mentions

The level of competition in Australia has improved a lot with the implementation of our national road series and teams. “
Loren Rowney puts out the importance of sponsors, product sales and how there is a great deal of growth to occur in this market

Again, there is room for growth. Bicycle companies for example specialized, want women on bikes and are making the push. So obviously they want us in the media, and want race coverage for us. It comes down to sponsors and supporters. The more fans and sponsors, the more money in the sport. So really, people have to demand to watch coverage of the Giro Rosa for example”

I would agree, my wife Sally describes a discussion about Lululemon she had recently with her friends 

"I was recommend Lululemon as great quality products made for tall women who also exercise"

Sally also a General Practitioner states 

"that she recommends all exercise but sees an increase in cycling as a healthy exercise from her patients" 

Carlee adds to the commentary and some sensible cost-benefit analysis

As I said earlier I think having more races in conjunction with the men had a lot of potential to improve the profile of women's cycling. It makes media coverage easier as the media are all ready there for the men's race. The road closures have already been approved and the spectators are there”

Good food for thought for race organises. The Santos Women’s Cup run on the same track just before the Tour Down Under’s Classic critierium and utilises the same infrastructure.

Jo Hogan from Bizkaia -Durango 
Jo is the tallest in the middle!

makes mention of her predicament leading into the Giro Rosa

Yes, unfortunately the team recently announced that they are experiencing financial difficulties and the future is not certain.  It was very upsetting to learn via social media that we may not be able to complete in the Giro Rosa and furthermore that the team may fold.  Since the announcement, the team has reassured us that the Giro is a certainty and that is all I am focused on at the moment”
It can be tough like that!

Positively Jo Hogan

Jo Hogan

points out her Australian summer and preparation for the Giro

"Yes, I was really happy with my Australian Summer season.  My Australian coach, Stuart McKenzie, has me training hard on a program he has developed to get in the best form possible.  I'm pouring all of my energy into training and I am really confident that the team and myself will have a successful tour (Giro Rosa)"

But the future is bright for women’s cycling especially with races like the Rosa but I think and coordinated response from race organises that respects both male and female competitors could to better outcomes for riders, sponsors and organisers.

Thanks very much ladies and best of luck of the Giro Rosa

Keep smiling and having fun!


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